Kimber's Nova Scotia (Sept. 16, 2007)

Kimber’s Nova Scotia

September 16, 2007

Pretty … impressive in pink

As soon as the staff at the Cambridge Discount Centre understood the reason behind David Shepherd’s unusual request, “clothes were flying… [The clerks] were digging in to help us find pink shirts.”

Shepherd, a Grade 12 student at Central King’s High School, and a group of his classmates — Travis Price, Chris Spencer, Nick Sullivan and John Kenneally — wanted the pink shirts to make a public statement to a small group of bullies at their school. The bullies had been harassing and threatening to beat up a Grade 9 student who showed up for his first day in his new school wearing a pink polo shirt.

Having collected their supply of pink tank tops, the boys returned to school and set up a giveaway shop in the lobby. Students “would just grab” the shirts, put them on, wrap them around their bodies, turn them into headbands. “The school looks cool,” Sullivan told the King’s County Register. “There’s pink all over the school.”

“One of the guys that was doing the bullying came up to me and asked if I knew the story of pink,” Shepherd said. “I said, ‘Sure, and it doesn’t matter.’”

Explaining their decision to confront the bullying this way, Shepherd added: “It’s our last year and we want to make a difference. At a young age, you don’t know the difference between playful teasing and bullying. Doing it over the colour pink is just so stupid.”

Central Kings principal Stephen Pearl, who approved the pink protest, told the newspaper: “It doesn’t surprise me at all they’d want to do this — we have some great kids.” Although the lead bully wasn’t in school the day of the protest, Pearl is sure he’ll get the message. “Student-driven attention goes a lot further, and he’ll hear about what happened today.”

Twisted times at Strait Board

It should have been a simple enough matter. The Strait Regional School Board decided to hire an outside human resources firm to conduct an external evaluation of the work of its superintendent, Phonse Gillis. So it contracted Halifax-based Thompson Associates — a firm whose website boasts it helps organizations “in developing their most valuable resource: their people” — to conduct the assessment.

Thompson consultants came, they interviewed staff and board members, they went away and prepared a preliminary report.

After that, things get murky. There was supposed to be an Aug. 14 meeting between a committee of the board and Thompson reps to discuss the firm’s preliminary findings, but it got cancelled. Except it didn’t really, since not everyone got the notice in time. So the board Chair, Mary-Jess MacDonald, who’s only ex-officio on the committee, met with some Thompson reps and received their report and filed it in a safe deposit box until… well, until something.

Something turned out to be board member Brenda Gillis. She claims the HR firm didn’t interview everyone as completely as it should have, was “biased” in its interview with her and made the superintendent aware of the contents of its initial report before the committee got to read it. She has declared the process “tainted” and insists she’ll have nothing more to do with it. At the board’s Sept. 5 meeting, she even introduced a motion to fire Thompson Associates.

That motion was defeated, but members agreed to withhold payment to the firm until … well until.

Have you had enough yet?

Because there’s more. There will be a special board meeting Sept. 19 to meet with Thompson Associates to discuss… well, whatever.

And you wonder what school boards really do.

Bringing in the spliffs

The RCMP’s annual fall harvest-the-harvest from marijuana grow ops across the province began in earnest last week with woods-stomping raids through backwoods Pictou and Shelburne counties.

“If anyone is growing plants outside,” Sgt./farmer Barry MacLellan of the Shelburne RCMP, told the local Coast Guard, “now is the time when they are ripe.”

Ripe?

Shelburne cops pulled 500 marijuana plants out of the ground in the small village of Sable River while their Pictou County colleagues took down about 750 of the armed and dangerous plants from their territory.

Pictou RCMP Const. Bill Rudolph, who said his boys captured about 1,000 lbs worth of “plant matter,” explained that the raids were “months in the making.”

How many “bad guys” did they catch?

Uh, none. “Not at this time, that’s what we’re saying,” he told the New Glasgow News.

What happens to the seized matter?

It gets burned.

Pity.

Ferry bad times in Yarmouth

Forget the rosy Department of Tourism stats that show overall visitor numbers up by five per cent in July of this year as compared with 2006. In Yarmouth, the actual numbers plummeted by a whopping 33 per cent, and locals says the situation is the worst it’s been since the province began compiling statistics in 1990.

The problem is that Yarmouth to Maine ferry service, which used to leave port early each morning — generating business for local hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts as well as shops and restaurants — now leaves port in the afternoons. That means many tourists arrive in Yarmouth just in time to join the lineup for the ferry’s departure, leaving behind no money in local business tills.

Bob Benson, owner of Churchill Mansion, says the changes cost Yarmouth more than $800,000 in July alone.

But Terry Grandy, owner of the Manor Inn and past president of the Inn Keepers Guild of Nova Scotia, says the seriousness of the crisis in Yarmouth’s tourism industry is being masked because the Tourism department stats lump in visitors as far away as Windsor into the same geographic area with Yarmouth.

“Our numbers are rolled in with Digby numbers, New Minas numbers, Wolfville numbers, etc..” he told the Yarmouth Vanguard. “They may be up but if Yarmouth is down, it only softens the real impact of what is happening in Yarmouth.”

Added Benson: “The only salvation at this time is a ferry service departing in the early morning.”

Wake up and smell the coffee.

Michel Samson for Finance Minister?

Richmond County wants Richmond MLA Michel Samson to cough up $550 for two months worth of back rent for his constituency office in a municipally owned mall. The county claims Samson owes the money from as far back as 2002.

Samson, who has suggested he’s the victim of a smear campaign or gross incompetence, says he won’t pay until the his landlord tells him which months he didn’t pay rent.

Huh?

Shouldn’t there be a paper trail — cancelled cheques, bank records — that both sides can quickly check to determine if there are missing cheques and for which months?

Well, yes. And no. The municipality claims its records show Samson didn’t make a payment at all in 22 of the last 72 months. In 18 of those other months, however, he made multiple payments. Some cheques were post-dated. Some included memos indicating the month the payments were to cover.

Richmond County CAO Louis Digout says it should be easy enough for Samson to figure out. “The amount owing to us is the net sum of the 22 months that he missed payments and those months where he made multiple payments.”

Samson isn’t buying. “If I&r
squo;m going to be told that I have missed a payment, I believe that for me to do due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers, it’s to ensure that I, in fact, did not make the payment.”

He thinks it’s up to the county to figure it out.

We think he should take a basic bookkeeping course.

Maybe they want to open a home supply store

Unimaginative thieves with more bolt cutters than brains have hit the Annapolis Valley Exhibition in Lawrencetown three times in the past month.

Just before the Valley Exhibition in August, they used their bolt cutters to cut the padlocks and steal $800 worth of drop-down electrical cords supplying commercial booths at the fair. Less than a week after the Exhibition closed, they were back to swipe $1,000 worth of tools. And then last week, the bolt-cutter bandits with limited horizons stole most of the exhibition’s plumbing — including 43 taps, shutoffs, copper pipe, and brass fittings for sinks and urinals. The cost: another $1,000.

The break-ins represent a major financial blow to the Exhibition, according to manager John Longley, who says he’ll try to discourage future visits from the bolt-for-brain brigade by using flexible plastic pipe, including for the taps, instead of copper.

Will that be enough to keep them away? Don’t bet on it.Stephen Kimber is the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of King’s College. His column also appears in Thursday’s Daily News.

Sources: ANNAPOLIS COUNTY SPECTATOR, KING’S COUNTY REGISTER, NEW GLASGOW NEWS, PORT HAWKESBURY REPORTER, SHELBURNE COAST GUARD, YARMOUTH VANGUARD

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Copyright 2007 Stephen Kimber, Website
  1. Oh my gosh!!! how come i keep hearing about people that sit on boards that do not know how the board /meeting process works; Are they not made to understand their by-laws and or Call to Order process.
    Please have everyone that attends any meeting fully understand the meeting process. It sure is lacking all around us; So i for one am not surprised that even the Strait Regional School Board members are not up to par on the process.

    Reply

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